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24 May 2021

Garment Group of EuroCham Myanmar, the European Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar

The Garment Industry in Myanmar: Status Update and Current Dilemmas: Should We Stay or Should We Go?

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May 2021


The declaration of martial law in some Yangon townships has particularly affected the safety of garment sector employees who live there. [...]

The logistical problems which led some European brands to pause sourcing in March are broadly resolved. However, European companies now need to decide whether to continue to source from Myanmar. If not, our suppliers’ factories have informed us that they will close, and more workers will be made redundant and skilled teams in factories will disperse. [...]

The dilemmas faced by our brands are both practical and ethical and reflect the questions raised by their stakeholders inside and outside the country:

  • Will continued operations be possible, given ongoing concerns about safety and possibly financial and logistical hurdles?
  • Is responsible sourcing possible in a context where human rights, including the right to freedom of association, are under severe threat?
  • If they continue to source, from Myanmar how can they support workers and the broader population in the current crisis?
  • What would be the consequences if European companies stop sourcing from Myanmar? If they leave, how can they exit responsibly?
  • Would continued sourcing benefit the military?

Some of these questions have no clear answers: the situation remains volatile and continued practical and safety challenges are expected. Even though workers’ rights are under threat outside the factory gates, brands can and must continue to work with supplier factories to ensure that they are protected in the workplace through ongoing human rights due diligence and social dialogue. [...]


EuroCham Myanmar and its Garment Sector Group believe it is useful to share these dilemmas with all our stakeholders and in particular the EU and member states and the UN experts. [...]


Part of the following timelines

Myanmar: Investors, businesses and global retail brands release statements urging for respect for human rights and democracy in the country

Myanmar: Companies issue statements on their commitments to the respect for human rights, the rule of law, and democracy